Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors stop Cal Poly, 69-56, on the road

On a night when other contenders in the Big West Conference suffered unexpected losses, the University of Hawai’i basketball team returned to its winning ways in a 69-56 road win over Cal Poly on Saturday.

WarriorInsider.com file photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

A crowd of 2,412 at Mott Athletics Center in San Luis Obispo, Calif., watched the Rainbow Warriors defeat the Mustangs for the second time this season. Hawai’i improved to 17-7 overall and 8-4 in the BWC.

Following upset losses by the BWC’s top three teams – UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and UC Riverside – the Warriors are now tied for third place with UC Riverside and Long Beach State. UCSB remains in first place, but just 1.5 games ahead of Hawai’i.

Cal Poly lost its 11th consecutive game and is 7-17 overall and in last place at 1-11.

Kamaka Hepa had team-highs of 29 points and six rebounds to lead the Warriors. The 6-foot-10 senior shot 7 for 11 from the field overall, 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and 11 of 12 on free throws.

Led by Hepa, the Warriors won the rebounding battle, 36-26, and also had their best free-throw shooting game of this season, going 23 of 24 (95.8 percent) from the line.

Samuta Avea added 18 points, and JoVon McClanahan contributed nine points, six assists and five rebounds for the Warriors.

“The energy to start the game, I thought we played right for a lot of the game and had a little bit of our competitive spirit back,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said during a post-game radio interview on ESPN Honolulu.

WarriorInsider.com file photo courtesy Brandon Flores

Two nights after its worst defensive performance of the season, Hawai’i was back in form, limiting Cal Poly to 40 percent shooting overall (21 for 53), including just 15 percent from 3-point range (2 for 13).

Hawai’i matched Cal Poly by shooting 40 percent overall (19 for 48), but went 8 for 19 from 3-point range (42 percent). The Warriors also out-scored the Mustangs 23-13 on free throws.

There were eight lead changes early in the first half, and then Hawai’i went on a 7-0 surge to take a 21-15 lead with 8:32 remaining.

Hepa made back-to-back 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to put the Warriors ahead 33-23, and Hawai’i eventually took a 36-25 lead at intermission. Hepa had 14 points and five rebounds in the first half, including 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range.

“His aggressiveness – I think his engagement,” Ganot said of Hepa’s performance. “He’s a heck of a player and hard to keep down. (Opponents) have really been targeting Kamaka and Noel (Coleman). Noel’s time is coming, too. Those guys have to continue to work and stay engaged, and they do because they have such great character.”

The Mustangs got as close as 42-35 with 13:57 remaining in the second half, but Hepa responded immediately with another 3-pointer to put the Warriors back up by 10.

Hawai’i stayed in control the rest of the way. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re back,” Ganot said. “I’m going to say we took a step, and to be honest, we have to get back to where we were and beyond. The goals that we have are, we have to do better.”

Hawai’i is scheduled to return to Honolulu on Sunday, and will host two BWC games next week – UC San Diego on Thursday, and Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

Big West Conference
Saturday’s Results

at Long Beach State 93, UC Irvine 88 (OT)
at Cal State Fullerton 64, UC Riverside 58
at CSUN 72, UC Santa Barbara 67
CSU Bakersfield 75, UC San Diego 69 (OT)
Hawai’i 69, at Cal Poly 56

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